Mount Ruapehu

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Mount Ruapehu
Location: Ohakune Mountain Road
1Length: 16.4 km
Height gain: 1,007 metres
Average gradient: 6%
Surface: Sealed
Terrain: Alpine
Traffic: Light

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

The dramatic landscape around New Zealand’s Mount Ruapehu in the North Island formed an incredible backdrop for Mount Doom.  A fictional mountain in Mordor in the Lord of the Rings films.  Mount Ruapehu is New Zealand’s No# 1 climb for the Road Cyclist.  And is New Zealand’s only HC (Hors Category) climb.  In the Lord of the Rings Mordor is a barren wasteland.  But when you begin your climb you will instead be greeted with a lush, green, fern-lined road.

Mount Ruapehu
Image taken by Duncan; courtesy of Flickr

Mount Ruapehu climb

Ohakune Mountain Road is New Zealands longest sealed climb which is 17 km in length.  This road takes you up to the car park at the Turoa Ski-field and has one incredible view. This first half of the climb has a couple of nasty pinches that hit the double-digits.  However overall offers a consistent gradient which will allow you to get into a steady rhythm.  Once you break through the lower slopes, beyond where the landscape becomes barren expect things to get hard.  With the Mountain peak looming directly ahead the landscape becomes more barren and you will feel as if you’ve entered the real Mordor.  There are some magnificent views of the valley below, and from here it’s a matter of survival.  The road does not relent until you reach the top.  Where you will be greeted with breathtaking views across New Zealand’s North Island.

Once you have enjoyed the view at the top your reward is one fun descent back down again. Be prepared for significant wind chill.  Even on a sunny day the temperature up top is considerably colder.  It pays to carry additional clothing with you to protect you from the cold of the descent.

Mount Ruapehu
Image taken by Long Zheng; courtesy of Flickr

Danger

Mount Ruapehu is an active Volcano. The question you’re probably wondering is there a chance this Volcano will erupt whilst you’re climbing it?  Yes it may!  It began erupting at least 250,000 years ago and major eruptions are about 50 years apart.  In recent times the volcano has erupted in 1895, 1945 and 1995. The next major volcanic eruption is due in 2045.  So there’s very little chance of you being caught in a major eruption, however minor eruptions are frequent.  At least 60 have occurring since 1945.  That’s almost one a year on average.  Can be good incentive to get to the top as quickly as possible 🙂

Have a look at this video footage of the 1995 eruption below:

Weather conditions

Although severe weather is unusual and generally forecast.  It has claimed several lives over the years & you are encouraged to keep an eye of the local weather forecasts. If it is looking a bit cloudy on the mountain, you may find issues with visibility. It’s suggested to take lights or reflectors.
Mount Ruapehu can experience high winds which aren’t ideal to ride a bike in.  So check out the weather forecast before you do the ride.

Lord of the Rings

Mount Doom is a fictional Volcano in J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle Earth, .  Which was featured in the Lord of the Rings Trilogies. Mount Doom is located to the north-west of the Black Land of Mordor. The mountain represents the endpoint of Frodo Baggins’ quest to destroy the one Ring.  And is the only place the ring can be destroyed.   If you’re a nerd like me then the thought of climbing a mountain which is part of Hollywood folklore is one that would make many a bucket lists.

Mount Ruapehu
Image taken by Jeff Hitchcock; courtesy of Flickr

 

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